Week 2 - My Family Travels

With little internet access and frustration at not getting done what we need done our patience is evaporating quickly. The weather here is hot and between 12 and 7 o’clock nobody goes outside. However, it is no hotter than Fresno, California; where Ashley and I grew up. It drives me crazy being confined inside for all that time, especially since I know I can handle the heat outside. If I step out in the sun for more than a second (literally a second) I am quickly shoed back inside. They tell me over and over again, “It’s too hot for you. You can’t be in the heat. It’s not good for you.” And on and on and on. We aren’t allowed anywhere by ourselves even though it is one of the safest places I have ever been. It is really annoying and hindering our research because they don’t let us go anywhere. We tell them that we’ll be okay but they don’t listen to us. I tell them that the weather here is the same as where I’m from, but they say, “No. the sun here is strong. It is not like America.” One man told me he knew it isn’t like this in America because he’s been to Miami and it wasn’t like this in Miami. I tell them America is a huge country and the weather is different everywhere Fresno is not like Miami, not one bit. Nobody listens, and nobody believes us. It’s infuriating.

On a happier note, we are now teaching in the mornings at a school for learning English. We teach a small advanced English class from 9am-11 am. There are 6 boys and 1 girl. It is a great experience, and the students are wonderful and have also helped us a lot with out research. It’s a good way to meet English speakers (which are few and far between here in the Sahara). Arabic dialect (Hassanian) and Spanish are spoken here.

The typical diet here is bread and tea for breakfast, bread rice and water for lunch, bread couscous and water for dinner. We have a few cooked vegetables made into a sauce (probably all the old food stewed together) with lunch and dinner. We also get canned fruit at dinner every other night. The government pays Sukaina a little bit for keeping us and has her feed us well. Unfortunately, it just means we are taking good food away from the people that need it. They refuse to stop feeding it to us, though, even after we told Sukaina she shouldn’t feed us the extra food on our account.

There are several rows of shops in Smara. Clothing, produce, and meat can be found here for sale. Unfortunately nobody really has money. All the jobs are non-paying unless you are a taxi driver or shop owner. Money comes from family and friends abroad.

One evening we drove to the outskirts of the camp because we told them we wanted to see camels. (PS. There are goats and sheep running rampant around the camp). While we’re leaving the main camp we start swerving back and forth to avoid obstacles in the sand. On a closer look I realize the obstacles are camel carcasses. Legs, skulls, etc. It’s disgusting. Up ahead we stop, and amidst this camel graveyard there is live camels. These camels are nearly starved and eating flour and water. Their front legs are tied with rope so they can’t travel and escape. The baby camels don’t have their legs tied because they won’t leave their mothers. I got to pet a camel, but it wasn’t exciting like I thought it’d be, it was just sad. At my feet lay the legs (rope still tied around them) of another camel that had once stood there but was recently slaughtered and taken back to Smara. One might be relieved to hear that any meat that is put on the market to sell is taken to the veterinarian first and inspected. If it passes the test the vet gives the owner a slip of paper with his signature of approval. No meat can be sold without this paper.

Here is an outline of some of our research so far:

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